Sunday, September 30, 2018


Sigmund Lipinsky (1912) 
Some nude drawings are psychological documents; others are engineering diagrams.

Some celebrate the triumph of the flesh while others mourn its mortality.

Some drawings groan of manual labor while others float effortlessly.

Lipinsky's mechanical reference marks contrast with his sensitive drawing to heighten 
the organic feel of the figure(including the abstract shape in the woman's hand) and 
block out the negative space in the larger composition.

Figure drawings can provide a flickering candle for illuminating vistas too delicate to withstand daylight.  They can also unleash resentments and rages. 

George Bellows,  Boy on a dock  (1907). 
 Despite the violence of this drawing, there's great sophistication in Bellows' treatment of tendons, bones and muscles.

Ever since our ancestors lost their fur, millions of artists have created hundreds of millions of interpretations of the human form, yet nobody seems to be getting tired of the subject.  It remains Topic A: always interesting.

Darren Kingsley (circa 2010).  Delicate shadings grouped in a self-assured composition.

Mapping the human form is indeed the uranography of art. Yet, the vast majority of nude drawings turn out to be little more than scented bilge. (Producing pictures of nude women has consistently provided employment for artists with even the most slender talent.)

As a public service, over the next few days I'm going to share some lesser known examples of figure drawings I believe are admirable.

As a public nuisance, some of those drawings will be accompanied by my own observations.

Alfred Crimi (circa 1950)


MORAN said...

That Lipinsky drawing is awesome. I didn't know about him.

Gianmaria Caschetto said...

I attend life drawing sessions anytime I can make myself free (which is not nearly as much as I'd like to). I miss the old school days, when 180 hours of life figure drawing were a fixture in the year's curriculum.
There is something about the drawing of a human figure that grabs us, and I'm not (only) talking about naked figures. that is something that I would like to understand. Why do we quickly dismiss a photograph of a person especially if unattractive, while we can linger so for minutes or hours on a portrait of the very same person?
Why is the drawing of a woman, even a fairly photorealistic one, more interesting to look at than a photograph? Why does the act of painting or drawing make something worth our marvel? I do not think it's all about admiring technical prowess at display, although that can be part of it. What are your thoughts, David?

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to this series. I always like to hear about great figure drawing.


David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- Yes, I think Lipinsky's drawings are under appreciated. His work can be quite sensitive.

Gianmaria Caschetto-- I agree with you about the value of figure drawing. When I asked the illustrator Bernie Fuchs how he became a master at drawing car advertisements, he said that at art school they drew from the figure morning, noon and night, and that the powers of observation he developed in that ordeal were his foundation for all other types of drawing. Fawcett says something similar.

I agree that some drawings are more interesting than a photograph, but then again other drawings (especially the photo-realistic ones) are not. Stay tuned for the next installments in this series.

Anonymous / JSL-- There are a lot of them out there!